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It’s Party Time! Sharing Holiday Joy through Family Recipes

Suzanne HeadshotOctober through December is such a busy time for us. We are very lucky to have a large family. Between our nephews, siblings, and children we have 4 birthdays in October, 1 in November, and then Thanksgiving and Christmas to celebrate. It seems like I spend the majority of my time these months in the kitchen. Lucky for me, I love to cook!

If there is one thing our family knows how to do, and do well, it is eat! Food certainly brings everyone together, and there is always plenty of it when our family celebrates. Meats, casseroles, veggies, desserts, you name it. Each woman in our immediate family is known for at least one great dish. So in the spirit of the holiday season, I’d like to share some of these treasures with you.

Regardless of the time of year or event, I guarantee there will be a broccoli casserole present! Andrew’s mother gave me the recipe after we got married. The first time my sister tried it she was hooked as well! So both sides of our family now enjoy this recipe together.


Broccoli and Cheese Casserole 

12 oz. bag of frozen broccoli
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. cheese whiz (or store brand cheese sauce)
1 stick of melted butter
1 cup of chopped onion
1 ½ cup minute rice
½ teaspoon each salt, pepper

Follow directions for cooking broccoli. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine all ingredients in 9x13 baking dish. Mix well. Bake for 45 minutes.

   Broccoli and Cheese Casserole 


Corn is another staple usually found on everyone’s holiday table. Aunt Ruth shared a super easy recipe for a tasty corn dish. Just a few simple ingredients, less than 5 minutes of prep work, pop it in the oven and there you go!

Baked Corn Pudding 

1 can cream style corn
1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
2 sticks melted butter
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

Mix all ingredients together in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


Now, if you have read our previous blogs you know our family is crazy about sweet potatoes! We’ve already shared our recipes for sweet potato pie, fries, and yeast rolls. Here’s one easy and tasty recipe for sweet potatoes and apples. The beauty of this is you can adjust the amount of cinnamon and sugar to suit your own taste or your guests dietary needs. Diabetics in your crowd? Leave out the sugar and the apples will still sweeten the dish! If you do go that route, I recommend adding a dash of nutmeg and ginger to spice it up a bit. 

Sweet Potatoes and Apples 

5-7 large sweet potatoes
3 large sweet apples
1 stick of butter (sliced)
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¼ cup orange juice

Peel and slice sweet potatoes, add to 9 x 13 baking dish. Peel and dice apples, add to baking dish and mix with potatoes. Slice butter and spread over apples and potatoes. Sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon and orange juice over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

 Sweet Potatoes and Apples 


No holiday meal is complete without bread! Our family is also big on all sorts of breads. We eat it for breakfast, do sandwiches at lunch, dinner rolls, and dessert breads. My best friend is a German who’s family shares our love of breads. We swapped some of our favorite recipes. Hers is a delicious and fresh Lemon Braid which may appear difficult but is rather easy. Mine was a Pumpkin Bread which makes a nice sweet loaf for dessert or breakfast.

Pumpkin Bread 

5 eggs
1 ¼ cup vegetable oil
1 can solid packed pumpkin (15 oz.)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 (3oz.) packages cook and serve vanilla pudding mix
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt

Beat eggs. Add oil and pumpkin and beat until smooth. Combine all remaining ingredients. Gradually beat into pumpkin mixture.

Pour batter into 5 greased mini loaf pans (5 ¾ In x 3In x 2 In). Bake at 325 degrees for 50-55 minutes, or until tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pans before releasing onto wire racks.

 Pumpkin Bread 

Hefezopf (Lemon Yeast Braid) 

3 2/3 cup flour
3 Tsp. yeast
1 1/3 cup warm milk
1/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp. salt
7 Tablespoon butter
Grated Skin of 1 whole lemon
1 egg, for brushing on top

Add flour to a bowl, make a dent in center and add yeast. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead until the dough is firm. Dough should not be sticky, add flour to right consistency. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 15 minutes. Knead again, then divide into 6 equal parts and roll into strands. Strands should be about the thickness of a nickel. Braid together 3 strands Do this twice to form two loaves. Put onto a greased baking pan, cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 30 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk egg and brush bread tops before baking. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

 Lemon Yeast Bread 

We recently celebrated our oldest daughters 6th birthday. My mother always bakes our kids a special cake for their birthday. The cake is always the center of our party theme, and we have done everything from Thomas the Train and Lightening McQueen (complete with donut wheels!) to Tinkerbell and Minnie Mouse. This year, Macey requested a tree frog cake. Not exactly what you would expect from a little girl. Mom rose to the occasion and made a life size replica of Macey’s bedtime buddy, “Hug A Bug.”

 Tree Frog Cake 

Now, Mom hasn’t shared her special recipe for chocolate cake, but I have a similar tasting recipe we use here at home. It’s sure to satisfy anyone’s coffee and chocolate craving!

Chocolate Mocha Cake 

2 Cups all purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1 cup freshly brewed coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease two 9 inch round cake pans. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, oil, eggs, buttermilk, baking powder, soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Dissolve instant coffee in warm coffee and add to mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed until smooth. Batter will be thin, do NOT add more flour. Pour mixture into prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before turning out on wire racks to cool.

Frost with your choice of frosting. I used this recipe at Halloween to make a pumpkin cake using a bundt pan and muffin tin. By doubling the recipe I had enough to do the 2 required bundt’s to form the pumpkin, and two muffins for the stalk. I frosted it with orange tinted butter cream frosting, added green butter cream frosting for the vine, and dyed some shredded coconut green for the “grass.”

 Pumpkin Cake 

We sure do enjoy the holidays around here. It gives us the perfect excuse to cook! Eating all the goodies is pretty good too. Give a few of these a try, and be sure to let us know how you like them!

suzanne cox
12/5/2011 9:57:16 PM

Dave, I am very thankful for our large family and all of the memories that our children are building with them. My family relocated to TN when I was very young, leaving all of our extended family behind in NC. For years it was just me and my parents, until my sisters surprise arrival 13 years ago. Now with her and our children, holidays on my side are much more noisy, and fun! Andrews whole family is local including 2 sisters and 4 nephews. So we stay busy on the holidays! Hopefully you will be able to build more family holiday memories with your daughter and grandson. Good luck in the kitchen!


nebraska dave
12/2/2011 7:52:12 PM

Suzanne, your family sure does like to cook. My Mom liked to cook the big meals and have folks over. I have always missed that since I left home and lived far away. Then when I returned to city that could be driven there for the dinner and back home in a day, Dad and her up and move some 1200 miles away. Go figure. I do have some good Thanksgiving day memories. I am just not good in the kitchen. I mean you can live on it but it isn't something that you would rave too much about. My daughter and grandson would like to re ignite those Holiday dinners for sure so I'll have to haul out the recipes and start building some more family traditions. If it was up to me, I'd have barbecued ribs, corn on the cob, and baked potatoes but I'm thinking that just won't fly for a holiday dinner. May you and your family have many more holiday dinners for years to come.